Tauziat joins Pierce in quarters

Sixth-seeded Nathalie Tauziat stumbled slightly in the second set before defeating South African Amanda Coetzer 6-3, 7-6 (8-6) on Tuesday in a first-round match at the $2 million Chase Championships.

Sixth-seeded Nathalie Tauziat stumbled slightly in the second set before defeating South African Amanda Coetzer 6-3, 7-6 (8-6) on Tuesday in a first-round match at the $2 million Chase Championships.

Tauziat needed 1 hours to become the second French player to advance to the quarter-finals of the Madison Square Garden tournament, the season-ending event on the WTA Tour. Mary Pierce, seeded fifth, won her first round match onMonday night, defeating Anna Kournikova 6-7 (3-7), 7-6 (7-5), 6-0.

The first round continues tonight when US Open champion Serena Williams, seeded fourth, takes on Belgium's Dominique Van Roost and top-seeded Martina Hingis begins defense of her title against Sandrine Testud, another one of the five French women in the elite 16-player field.

Tauziat completely dominated Coetzer in the opening set, which took only 29 minutes.

"I never had a chance," Coetzer, aged 28, said. "I just think she played a flawless set."

Coetzer, four years younger than her French opponent, found the range in the second set as the two took turns trading service breaks.

Tauziat will next play the Williams-Van Roost winner. Coetzer, playing in the Garden event for the seventh time, is going home with $30,000.

Kournikova was two points away from upsetting Pierce when the 18-year-old Russian's game began to unravel.

"It was completely mental," Kournikova said of her second-set meltdown. "It had nothing to do with the physical part."

In the opener of the week-long tournament, seventh-seeded Barbara Schett of Austria easily defeated Spanish veteran Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario 6-1, 6-4.

The opening round will be completed on Wednesday, beginning with a day match between No. 8 Julie Halard-Decugis of France and Germany's Anke Huber. At night, No. 2 Lindsay Davenport, the Wimbledon champion, plays Amelie Mauresmo of France and third-seeded Venus Williams takes on Spain's Conchita Martinez.

After winning the first-set tiebreaker, Kournikova played nearly perfect tennis to grab a 4-1 lead. She had several break points in the next game before a struggling Pierce finally held.

Two games later, Kournikova battled to deuce on Pierce's serve, two points away from victory.

"I just really told myself to just try to play every point point-by-point. Just think, concentrate point-by-point," Pierce said. "I sat down and just tried to think what's going on."

Pierce finally held, and when she broke Kournikova at love in the ninth game, they were back on serve. This time, it was Pierce who won the tiebreaker.

"Mentally I just couldn't get over that," Kournikova said of being unable to close out the match in the eighth game. "I just need some more matches. That's the end of the story."

It was. Kournikova won just five points in the third set and Pierce claimed a spot in the semifinals against the Hingis-Testud winner.

Schett ripped winners from all over the court in the 12 minutes it took to play the first five games of her match against Sanchez-Vicario. The crowd finally had something to cheer when Sanchez-Vicario held from 30 in the sixth game to finally get on the scoreboard.

It took just 19 minutes for Schett to wrap up the opening set.

Sanchez-Vicario, who was the last entry into the field, found a few openings in the second set, holding her first three serves, two from deuce. And after she lost her serve in the seventh game, she broke right back to level the set 4-4.

Two games later, the Spaniard, who will turn 28 next month, was ousted from her 12th Garden tournament. It was her earliest exit since 1995, and only her third first-round loss on the blue carpet.

"It went too fast," Sanchez-Vicario said.

In the quarter-finals, Schett will face the winner of the Venus Williams-Martinez match.

The winner of Sunday's title match earns $500,000.

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